I gotta elevate!
I’m going to start this by saying that I’m not a creative person regarding construction games. I may draw weird things and create bad tunes, but regarding buildings and functional structures, I’m completely useless. Granted, I always try to improve myself by learning new things (I’ve been writing about video games for more than 7 years now, it’s either that or hitting the bottle), so I didn’t think taking a look at the first title from Hugecalf Studios would do me any harm. Was I right? Well, fasten your seatbelts, because it’s time to review When Ski Lifts Go Wrong.
High as a kite
As I stated before, this is a game from Curve Digital, the same publisher who gave us titles such as Smoke and Sacrifice or Human: Fall Flat. Created by Hugecalf Studios, the game is basically your usual physics-based construction game. You have your regular Campaign with a quite decent amount of levels and you Sandbox Mode in order to let your creativity explode with an overall OK array of options. Again, I’m not that good at making levels for this specific genre (although you can share your levels via Steam Workshop, so there’s that), so I’ll focus my attention on the Campaign mode. And spoilers: for better or worst, the title of the game is the best summary you’ll find anywhere.
The levels present in Ski Lift Simulator 2019 (I’m starting to get tired of saying the entire name) are just your basic run-of-the-mill goals: make a skier go from A to B by using a limited number of objects. We can use logs, planks, wheels, foundations, slopes (called “Jump”, don’t know why they are not called slopes but sure, why not), supports, ropes, and slopes–sorry, JUMPS with a turbo function. Not the biggest array of items to make the craziest thing ever achieved by mankind but hey, they do their work just fine. At times, there’s also the chance to control the little buddies we have to safely send to the goal, and… These are my least favorite levels of the entire game.
Don’t get me wrong, they are not everywhere, yet the vehicle physics seem… Odd. I may not have experience with construction games, but I do have knowledge of games like Trials, and this is no Trials at all. The characters are also controlled by physics just like the structures, yet they don’t seem to work as well. Trying to create a ramp only to see your rider struggling to get inertia in order to make an easy jump it’s fun the first 6 times. After that, it gets old, even if you see the riders smack their faces against the side of a mountain. And this is the point in which I have no idea what to say about When Ski Lifts Go Wrong: the physics system itself.
We build this city on wood and snow
I know the whole appeal of these types of games are just watching the physics go, well, wrong, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t follow some logical rules. And at times, When Ski Lifts Go Wrong does whatever the ‘hill’ it wants, and that makes everything kind of frustrating, to be honest.
Say for example that I want to create a pole in order to put a wheel and make the cable of the ski lift go above it. In order to make a pole with a log, you need to secure the log with ropes, and you have to put the ropes with tension in order to make the log stand still. And of course, if you add too much tension the ropes will snap and everything will break. This may sound like Physics Class 101, but you can already tell by the way I’m presenting this that there’s going to be a catch. And the thing is that most of the time I couldn’t tell why things were breaking.
After doing the tutorial levels, I tried to replicate the exact same thing as I did with the already mentioned pole structure, but either the log fell to one side for no reason or the rope either snapped out of tension (which that’s something not clearly visible in-game, as the rope just flimsy spawns when you press “Play”) or it just didn’t offer any tension at all. This also happens with some structures like bridges, mostly due to the fact that at times you can’t make good triangles because you can’t fuse two joints together flawlessly because the game tells you it’s far from the joint even if you can SEE that they can reach one another with no problem! You are going to drive people with OCD crazy, Hugecalf Studios!
This problem is also present at times with regular structures too, as it seems that a giant wood structure made entirely out of triangles with a solid foundation can’t hold itself when a skier that probably has an Adamantium skeleton rides a T-bar surface lift. And this is the thing I don’t really know what to say about physics-based games: reaching the goal feels more like luck rather than skill.
Blizzard with a chance of entertainment
I never felt angry or something similar while playing this game, yet I also want to create something that makes me say “yeah, I’m a master of ski lifts!” rather than “I have no idea how that counted but sure, why not”. But hey, this is my way of playing these type of games, and at the end of the day, I had a fun time playing When Ski Lifts Go Wrong! It’s not going to blow people’s minds with something completely revolutionary in terms of mechanics, but it’s a really great title if you want to kill some time with it. And the Steam Workshop function is good if you want to play something unique, so it adds to its fun factor.
When Ski Lifts Go Wrong its the first title of Hugecalf Studios, and I have to say that for their first try they did a pretty good job. It has flaws, but I think said flaws are something minor that they will be able to improve as they create more games. Don’t mind the rant, as I had quite a fun old time playing this game and I believe you will have one too.
When Ski Lifts Go Wrong
- Wacky mechanics that are fun to see crumble into chaos
- Nice variety of levels
- Steam Workshop add tons of hours of fanmade levels
- The vehicle levels are not really good
- Not a lot of variety in terms of usable items
- Sometimes the physics don't work really well